A simple miso soup is one of my favorite matsutake recipes. It comes together quickly and highlights the unique flavor of the mushrooms.
This miso soup is about a nice broth flavored with miso, but moreso it's all about having another useful, simple matsutake recipe. Unlike the vast majority of wild mushrooms, matsutake don't like cream, cheese or butter at all. The more clean, simple recipes you have for them, the better.
I've eaten mushrooms in miso soup plenty of times, but usually they're small soup mushrooms like Flammelina velutipes (enoki), or Hypsizygus tessellatus (buna shimeji), never something as special as a matsie, and I wouldn't expect to.
It's not just as simple as throwing matsutake in some dashi and letting them ride though, it's all about making sure you can capture the matsutake aroma. Cooked and simmered in the broth like the other mushrooms you might use, the matsutake could be overtaken by the miso flavor, and if I can't taste matsutake in my matsutake miso soup, I wasn't going to be happy.
Am I splitting hairs here? Some people might say so, but those people didn't drive six hours round trip to pick their matsutake. To make sure I taste matsutake, (their aroma is most potent raw) I add them to the soup add the last minute, and I slice them thicker than other mushrooms that go into soup so they keep a crunch that floods your sinuses with matsutake flavor as you chew.
As I was gathering things to put together the miso soup, I had a revelation. I'd just learned about Cryptataenia canadensis, or Mitsuba, as it's known in Japan.
It's a plant in the parsley family (the other name is Japanese parsley), and it's often used in miso soup, too, so I knew it would be a great in the soup. I spend a lot of time on a farm in Wisconsin that's completely covered in the stuff, so all I had to do was take a walk into the sugar bush with the dog and grab some.
You might be able to get some at your local asian market, or just substitute some other tender greens, cilantro, parsley, or just skip it. I was just happy I'd thought of a great way to have matsutake and mitsuba together, next time, I'm going to have to grill the mushrooms and toss them with mistsuba like a warm salad. Yum.
This is a basic scratch miso soup, but you could sure use a packet from an Asian market in a pinch, or use your favorite dashi recipe. I added some dried matsutake to my dashi, but it's optional, most of the matsie flavor is going to come from the shaved mushrooms here.
Matsutake Miso Soup
- 1 2 quart soup pot
- 6 cups dashi
- 2 cup diced wild greens such as mitsuba
- 1 cup tofu diced ¼ inch
- 4 tablespoons red miso or to taste
- 2 oz matsutake 4-6 small mushrooms, thickly shaved
- 6.5 cups water
- Kombu: ½ oz 15 grams or one 4 x 4 inch piece
- Bonito flakes 2 cups, or 40 grams
- A good handful of dried matsutake optional
For the dashi
- Soak kombu for 3 minutes in the 6 cups of water. heat the water with kombu to nearly boiling, but do not boil. Remove and discard kombu. Add bonito flakes, dried matsutake, and turn off heat, allow to infuse for 20 minutes.
- Strain, cool and reserve. Discard bonito or save to make furikake.
For the soup
- Heat the dashi and miso until simmering.
- Add the greens and tofu and heat through.
- Double check the seasoning and adjust as needed, then add the matsutake, stir to heat through but don’t try to cook them, turn off the heat and serve.